Staff: Luke J Halsall, Graeme Kennedy, and Gary Chudleigh
iSquandered the premise.
So today I’ve got a comic to review called “iHero” from Obscure Reference Comics. Now I’m not an Apple guy. I think they are proprietary garbage if you ask me… but hey- you’re here for comic reviews right? Lets review that instead 😉
Right off the bat I dislike the cover. Maybe it’s all the comics I grew up with, but this is so divorced from the traditional that it bugs me. We have the title “iHero” in a traditional san serif font and a picture of a iPad with a few “superpower apps” on it. It looks really uninspired to be honest and the artifacting in the top right of the image really doesn’t do this comic’s otherwise decent artstyle justice. The credits page are also done in the same fashion, trying to mimic the layout of a mobile device but coming across like someone was messing around with Adobe Illustrator.
The art is a decent attempt, blinding more of a cartoonish style with comic forms. The use of strokes is nice but sometimes the inexperience of the artist (maybe rush?) shows though. While nothing is “bad”, nothing is good either and it is a far cry from the big leagues. A good understanding of dynamic motion is really shown however and I’d love to see some work from this artist in a few years. On a related note, the letting is legible and even the onomatopoeia are decent. I think they left a speech bubble blank on page 13, but otherwise it is a solid job.
So the plot has me on both sides of the fence. The comic is about an iPod like device that gives you superpowers. The product is called “iHero” and was developed by a guy who looked like Steve Jobs… but isn’t. I understand that they can’t call it “Apple”… but it really detracts from it. There is a very heavy “real world consequences for superpowers” feel to this comic, but we have everything BUT the real world. It is like talking about a burger place in a story but calling it “McSonalds” so they don’t get sued. It seems like there always air quotes around every mention of something “non-Apple” related and it is really distracting (A pear logo with a bite taken out of it, etc).
The plot is very quickly rushed through, like a speed run of some video game. We are told of events, sometimes in single panels, and I don’t feel like a reader doesn’t have enough time to develop any sort of investment in the elements of the story. iHero released, we see some fun uses of it, then it is banned right and left, and we see the bad stuff happening with it. At first I thought some of the early stuff was a parody and we were going to get a zoom out to see that it was a commercial they were considering or whatnot. We have some really dark things happen (A girl freezes her boyfriend’s junk off in retribution of him sleeping with someone else) but it comes across like it’s a joke or funny, and it might have been but then two pages later it is banned and it is implied that people are fearful of this because of the stuff. It is like it can’t decide if it wants to be funny or serious and doesn’t have the substance to convey the complexities necessary to manage that sort of dynamic due to the breakneck pace it rushes through stuff in.
A lot of these situations could be a good 3-4 pages worth of material that could allow us to get invested in the characters and thus the outcome. Imagine if we got to MEET the guy who was teleporting around so he could sleep with his mistress? If we learned about who he was, his personality traits, his rationale for doing it, and the context it occurred within maybe the ending could have a real punch- but instead we get 6 panels of it and are not sure if we should laugh or feel bad for him.
There are a few stock superheroes that you can tell are either parodies or pastiches. We have characters similar to superman, supergirl, and batman joining “not-Steve Jobs” on a superhero team (reminiscent of the Justice League or perhaps Avengers) to combat people misusing the iHero. In a world like this- it seems like a really missed opportunity to develop some really unique characters.
While this comic starts off with a potentially really interesting premise- it is squandered on mediocre fair. The whole comic seems really one note; “What if an Apple product gave you superpowers?”. If that excites you- read this and laugh at the iPod jokes. If not, I am remiss to recommend it.